Imagine a world in which every single human being can freely share in the sum of all knowledge.
The Wikimedia projects make up one of the world's largest repositories of human knowledge. With that much information, someone is bound to get upset by some of the content from time to time. While the vast majority of content disputes are resolved by users themselves, in some extreme cases the Wikimedia Foundation may receive a legal demand to override our users.
The Wikimedia projects are yours, not ours. People just like you from around the world write, upload, edit, and curate all of the content. Therefore, we believe users should decide what belongs on Wikimedia projects whenever legally possible.
Below, you will find more information about the number of requests we receive, where they come from, and how they could impact free knowledge. You can also learn more about how we fight for freedom of speech through our user assistance programs in the FAQ.
But better to get hurt by the truth than comforted with a lie.
#WeMissTurkey May 2018
In May, we received a request from a Turkish government agency to remove a large category of photos from Wikimedia Commons, which we denied. A previous request in April 2017 has resulted in all languages of Wikipedia being blocked in Turkey for over a year. Since that time, the 80 million people of Turkey have been denied access to free knowledge, while the rest of the world has lost the opportunity to learn from the people of Turkey on Wikipedia. We remain committed to restoring access to Wikipedia in its entirety in Turkey and protecting free knowledge globally.
Multiplying Knowledge January 2018
An individual wrote to us in January asking us to remove an image of a mathematical diagram on English Wikipedia that was being used to illustrate an abstract concept. Because the requestor had created a different diagram illustrating the same idea, they alleged that the version on the Wikimedia projects infringed their intellectual property. We did not grant their request. Generally, simple numerical diagrams are not sufficiently original to merit protection under copyright laws, and such diagrams of mathematical concepts are ineligible for other kinds of intellectual property protection. We believe that these tools should be freely available to everybody.
Getting Territorial Multiple months
The Wikimedia projects contain all kinds of information for historical and educational purposes. When writing about geography, volunteer contributors must decide how to write about disputed territories and places known by multiple names, balancing reliable sources and viewpoints to choose the most accurate phrasing. In the past six months, we received four requests—including from one country’s government—asking us to change how various locations are described on multiple projects. The writers cited international and local laws to support their arguments. We didn’t make any edits, of course; the emailers can join the conversation and present their views to other community members.
Because we did not collect data for projects potentially and actually affected until July 2013, this information is not available for July 2012 to June 2013.
Jan – Jun 2018
Total Right to Erasure Requests
Jan – Jun 2018
Number of Requests Granted
Right to Erasure
The Right to Erasure or Right to be Forgotten, is a right under the laws of various countries that allows individuals to request that certain information relating to them be delisted or removed. We receive two types of Right to Erasure requests relating to the Wikimedia projects: requests relating to project content, and requests relating to user accounts.
When we receive a Right to Erasure request regarding project content, we first direct the requester to experienced project volunteers, who routinely handle most requests to change content on the projects. Wikimedia projects have guidelines for content about living persons, and the volunteer community can review the guidelines and work with the requester to address their concerns. When we receive a request relating to a user account, we provide the user information on the community-driven vanishing process.
We believe in a Right to Remember. Everyone should have free access to relevant and neutral information of public concern; delisting and removing such content from the internet harms our collective ability to remember history and understand the world. In October 2016, we filed a petition to intervene in Google’s appeal of a French administrative order that would expand such delistings from the European Union to all global domains. In July 2017, the French Supreme Court asked the European Court of Justice to address questions regarding the scope of right to erasure delistings, and we have submitted a filing to the ECJ presenting our concerns.
* Please note that this information only reflects requests made directly to us. Wikimedia project pages continue to disappear from search engine results without any notice or request to us. We have a dedicated page where we post notices of delisted project pages that we have received from the search engines who provide such information as part of their own commitments to transparency.
Jan – Jun 2018
Total DMCA Takedown Requests
Jan – Jun 2018
Percentage of Requests Granted
DMCA Takedown Notices
The Wikimedia community is made up of creators, collectors, and consumers of free knowledge. While most material appearing on Wikimedia projects is in the public domain or freely licensed, on occasion, copyrighted material makes its way onto the projects.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) safe harbor provision requires us to remove infringing material if we receive a proper takedown request. We thoroughly evaluate each DMCA takedown request to ensure that it is valid. We only remove allegedly infringing content when we believe that a request is valid, and we are transparent about that removal. If we do not believe a request to be valid, we will push back as appropriate. To learn more about DMCA procedures, see our DMCA policy.
Below, we provide information about the DMCA takedown notices we have received in the past and how we responded to them.
A well-functioning copyright law carefully balances the interests of the public in access to expressive works and... the interests of copyright owners in being compensated for uses of their works.
Museum Mayhem February 2018
Wikimedia contributors respect copyright, which is why we receive very few DMCA takedown notices. When an American museum sent us such a notice with a long list of allegedly infringing images on Wikimedia Commons, we investigated. The museum did not provide evidence of ownership of any of the images. Additionally, we discovered that many of the works were quite old; their copyright had expired, and they had entered the public domain. We contacted the museum for more information, but received no response. Copyright terms should be relatively short, so works of art can enter the public domain, and people everywhere can freely access and learn from them.
Copyright Confusion February & May 2018
In February and May, we were contacted by an anti-piracy organization, which asked us to remove the English Wikipedia article about a suspected film piracy ring. They submitted a DMCA request to us, even though the article did not include copyrighted material, and also made unclear demands related to trademark law. Because the article lacked any copyrighted content, we denied the request. However, volunteer editors ultimately deleted the article due to lack of notability. Contributors work hard to remove content that doesn’t meet the Wikipedia community’s encyclopedic standards. The DMCA should only be cited when copyrighted content is involved, not in general takedown demands.
Decorative DMCA January 2018
In January, we received a DMCA from a European collecting society on behalf of one of its artist members. The notice addressed a group of photos on Wikimedia Commons showing the interior of an intricately decorated German church. We investigated and followed up with the organization for more detail. They explained that their artist client had created two pieces of art in the church and therefore held the copyright to these works. We removed photos of these particular creations. However, other images of the church’s ornate interior remain on Commons.